Historical methodology, as I see it, is a product of common sense applied to circumstances.
Fiction has consisted either of placing imaginary characters in a true story, which is the Iliad, or of presenting the story of an individual as having a general historical value, which is the Odyssey.
It is this conception of the unity of the human career which is perhaps the greatest achievement of historical study, since it gained a place analogous to that of natural science.
After working as a journalist I went to a writing program at Johns Hopkins. It was interesting because it was neither journalistic nor historical, but it emphasized writing style, and afterwards I was asked to write my first book.
Beyond institutional amnesia, a rejection of causal analysis is the existential rock on which American Exceptionalism sits. The United States unique sense of itself depends on an ambiguous relationship to the past. History is affirmed, since it is America’s unprecedented historical success that justifies the exceptionalism.
Risk models are a substitute for historical knowledge, because they tend to work with just three years’ worth of data. But three years is not a long time in financial history.
However, the difficulties and pleasures of the writing itself are similar for a novel with a historical setting and a novel with a contemporary setting, as far as I’m concerned.
With honesty of purpose, balance, a respect for tradition, courage, and, above all, a philosophy of life, any young person who embraces the historical profession will find it rich in rewards and durable in satisfaction.
The metropolis reveals itself as one of those great historical formations in which opposing streams which enclose life unfold, as well as join one another with equal right.
‘Memory.’ ‘Race.’ ‘Murder.’ That’s what they say about me. I am an elegiac poet. I have some historical questions, and I’m grappling with ways to make sense of history; why it still haunts us in our most intimate relationships with each other, but also in our political decisions.